initial certification filing documents site visit adjudication

SEVP School Certification Life Cycle

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notice of decision issuance of forms i-20 updates to form i-17 and adjudication recertification
initial certificiation

Step 1 of 8

Initial Certification

Only schools certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) can enroll F or M nonimmigrant students. A school applies for SEVP-certification to enroll F and/or M students by completing the Form I-17, "Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Student," online using the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and pays all required fees online at

More about initial certification

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filing documents

Step 2 of 8

Filing Documents

SEVP requires schools to electronically submit the minimum required evidence at the same time it submits the petition in SEVIS. The petitioning school submits the required evidence and their record is marked as “filed” in SEVIS upon receipt of documents and proof of payment.

More about filing documents

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site visit

Step 3 of 8

Site Visit

The petitioning school will undergo a site visit from an SEVP site inspector within 20 days of the date the school is marked “filed” in SEVIS. During the site visit, the inspector will gather evidence on school eligibility for certification, review the facilities and interview personnel nominated on the petition to become designated school officials, known as DSOs, including the person nominated to be principal designated school official, known as PDSOs.

More about site visits

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Step 4 of 8


The petitioning school’s Form I-17 and supporting documentation will be reviewed by an SEVP adjudicator to determine the school’s eligibility for SEVP certification. The SEVP adjudicator may send the petitioning school additional requests for evidence if more information is needed to complete the adjudication.

More about adjudication

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notice of decision

Step 5 of 8

Notice of Decision

Once a decision is made about the school’s petition for SEVP-certification, DSOs from the petitioning school will receive a notification from SEVIS that details SEVP’s adjudication decision.

More about notices of decision

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issuance of forms i-20

Step 6 of 8

Issuance of Forms I-20

Once certified by SEVP, DSOs at the SEVP-certified school can now issue Forms I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status” to F and M nonimmigrant students who have been accepted into their school. Nonimmigrant students use the Form I-20 to apply for their student visa from the U.S. Department of State.

More about the issuance of Forms I-20  

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updates to form i-17 and adjudication

Step 7 of 8

Updates to Form I-17 and Adjudication

DSOs at SEVP-certified schools must report any changes to information recorded in their Form I-17 within 21 days of the change occurring. The school is required to submit evidence as part of filing the update. 

More about updates to Form I-17

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Step 8 of 8


SEVP-certified schools must go through a Congressionally mandated recertification process every two years. During this process, SEVP reviews a school’s recordkeeping to verify that it continues to be a bona fide school and remains compliant with SEVP regulatory standards. SEVIS will notify all DSOs of their school’s certification expiration date (CED). The CED is the last date your school will be eligible to enroll F and/or M students unless a complete recertification package is submitted within the appropriate timeframe. The PDSO must submit a complete recertification package to SEVP within 180 days of the CED.

More about recertification

Learn more about SEVP School Certification on